Monday, December 24, 2007

Videos from Dec. 17th Quick Before Sinking Gig.

Courteousy of The Epic Beat.

A Muted Soul.

All Along The Watchtower (Can you pinpoint when the arthritis kicked in?).

Warning: High Gear Content! Equipment: StewMade Hendrix/Zappa Tribute, Barber LTD Overdrive, (Watchtower solo: Seymour Duncan Classic Twin tube overdrive/distortion pedal), Boss Digital Delay, Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb RI with 12" blue alnico Jensen speaker with NOS Bremar 6V6GT power tubes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My College Roomate Composer John Sponsler.

(left: John, middle: Hans Zimmer.)

John and I were college roomates back at Cal State University, San Bernardino in the mid 80's. We both attended music classes and were both in the same band at that time. We had quite the bachelor pad in our dorm room. It was cool because John worked in a video store and so we watched a lot of movies together. John was my introduction into staying up past 11:00 PM during the week.

One movie in particular was a Yes' "90125 Live" concert (no longer in print). It was right when Trevor Rabin breathed new life into Yes and created songs like, "Owner of A Lonely Heart", "Changes", and "Leave It". I think John had seen them twice live that year.

A few years later, John and I had started a band and attempted to get into the whole Disneyland Musical Artists network. Our goal was to be THE band that performed in Tomorrowland Terrace; the stage that pops up out of the ground. We spent many hours auditioning, and practicing in L.A. while living in the same apartment. John is a very driven individual and the only interruption that got in his way was sleep. We could rehearse all the way up until 3:30 AM and then sleep until 10:00 AM the next day. Then do it all over again. We would rehearse at a recording studio after hours.

After we didn't make the audition for Disney, we all sort of went our separate ways; John still forming bands and playing in L.A. I lost touch with John sometime around 1991.

So now I'm finding old friends through MySpace, people I have not talked to in years. I did a Google search of John since I've been reaching old band buddies. Turns out John is a composer/songwriter and has collaborated with many L.A. heavies in producing movie trailer music and movie score writing for televsion and film. John has a writing partner named Tom Gire and they both work under the company name Magic Box and are composers for Brand X. Feel free to check out some of their work by clicking on the many genres on the left. Very impressive.

Magic Box has written music for "National Treasure: book of Secrets", Movie Trailer for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", the last "Spiderman" movie, commercial spots for Scion, Navy, and Boeing, teamed up with Hans Zimmer for "Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest", the sea battle score for "Pirates of the Carribean at World's End", worked with John Williams for "Memoirs of a Geisha", "Munich", and new music for Sunday Night Football for NBC. John, correct me if any of my facts are wrong.

Trevor Rabin (L), John Sponsler (R)

Most recently, John teamed up with now legendary film scorewriter Trevor Rabin. Yes the former guitarist from Yes that John and I used to watch in our dorms. They completed the second film for Disney's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets".

Best of all, John is a follower of Christ. Very cool. Anyway, check out both sites if you have some time and enjoy some of John's work.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

King Williams' StewMade Review @ Harmony Central.

I know I've posted about "King" Williams before but I just found his review for my '64 J bass replicas that I built back in 2006. Thought I'd share for you bass folks out there. Nice to know I'm building them right.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Miss The Tories.

The Tories did the theme song to the short lived show "Jesse". The show starred Christina Applegate. I can't find the theme song but if you look up The Tories in iTunes, it's under "Time for You". I highly recommend it. Very "The Replacements" sounding group (Friends theme music).

I don't care for the video much but I love this songs' feel. Funny that they sort of sound like Jellyfish. You be the judge.
The Tories.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Had A Great Time With De-Tension.

Well we haven't played since June '07. Conflicting schedules and everything. It was fun playing again. We have been offered some gigs (finally). I guess a local Plaza is interested in paying us to play about 12 times from February-March '08. I'll have to really coordinate schedules with family, 3 bands and work. I think we should pass on Friday nights. Wrong age group on Fridays ;)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Old Band Websites and MySpace.

I used to be in two Police related bands; Cops in Concert and Cubo (Conduct Un Becoming an Officer). I was in CnC from '85-95 and made two records with them. I joined a breakoff from that group Cubo in '97 from a Cops in Concert Reunion Concert. Basically they were City Policemen who played cover tunes. Cops in Concert did a "Blue Brothers" type show, while Cubo just did Classic Rock live music.

So here's the link which still exists from Cops in Concert (note my Kirk Cameron attire, very 80's). And here's CUBO's Myspace. Pretty funny. Actually, CUBO sounds pretty good if you check out their MySpace.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hey, Anybody Want To Build A Website For Me?

I was fooling around taking pictures of my surfboard guitar before shipping off to it's new owner. I'm really into black & white photography right now. So I created this magazine add mock up. I love it because it's so grainy and slightly retro looking.

It got me thinking I really need a website. It's almost like this blog had created a diversion from me getting my StewMade website up. Ian? What about you?

I have a layout in mind and I registered my domain through Ipowerweb. There are a few templates but I'm so new to html and all that. This is what I've had for about 6 months (StewMade).

Here's my title page that I've created through PrintMaster 12. I have created pages already but when you check the site out before you go live, you can only click on "Previous - Next" rather than click on a tab and link to that page.

Anybody up for it? I have plenty of graphics stored as URLs and stuff.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hide the Kids for This Video...But Very Funny To Musicians Over 30.

There was a band a few years back called "The Darkness". Serious rock band from England (note the teeth) but pulled out all the stops with every Rock n' Roll/Glam Rock/Hair Metal Rock band cliche. The band pokes fun at their own expense. All of their videos are over the top, tongue and cheek Metal fantasies....that involve space. Kind of like their own Spinal Tap. Lead Singer Justin Hawkins emulates Peter Frampton meets Freddie Mercury (Queen), meets Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), meets David Coverdale (Whitesnake), meets Robert Plant (Led Zepplin). Note the slow-mo, wind in hair guitar solo. Epic Beat, make sure you're not drinking water when you watch this. Warning: there is some sexually suggestive "Austin Powers" style humor in this video.

Here is, "I Believe In A Thing Called Love".

Friday, December 7, 2007

Yeah, It's The Weekend!

Pretty disturbing, huh? Sort of "Black Hole Sun'esque"? But this is how I feel on this Friday....well maybe taken down a few notches.

Great week but lot's of back pain. Talked to the spine doc this week; back injections. If that don't work, we'll be "burning" the nerves in that area. Actually if the injections work, then we know it's an S.I. Joint problem.

There has always been a suspicious sacroilliac joint dysfunction associated with the flattened disc due to the nature of my injury. If the injections work, then after the injections wear off, we'll burn off the nerves that create that sensation of pain.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Unbelieveable CelArts Worship Ministry Experience.

Wow. I'm placing my most uplifting blog to date. This weekend was amazing. Besides having to play with some amazing voices and musicians, there was something in the air about performing this weekend. I was so in "the zone" spiritually. I'm not sure if it was the particular arrangements or God giving me a hug of confidence to get me through this upcoming week.

I was almost moved to tears while performing two of our last songs. The songs I’m referring to; "The First Noel" & "What Child Is This". These were not done in the traditional arrangements that you've heard Andy Williams sing over the years.

I don't know if it was from being in such close proximity so that I could closely hear everything that was going on. While I was playing, I could feel that I was no longer conscious of myself but was able to listen to everything else going on around me. Mind you I was not playing bad notes, but it was like my hands were on auto-pilot. Brad was running straight out of my monitor (reference speaker that enables me to hear the rest of the band), so his notes were moving me to play to my best abilities. Ian, wow, great time and groove that I've never experienced before while Jason was right there on every kick beat (the beat that the bass drum hits, big deal with bass players and drummers).

I dunno, just an overwhelming feeling of emotion came over me while playing. It allowed me to completely relax and do my thing. But those last two songs.....really had to do the man thing and bite my lower lip. I know, corny huh? Something magical about those two songs because it happened with each service, highest sensation at the last service though.

I even got to talk to some people I normally don't get to talk to. It's the most I've spoken to Brad, and I even got to spend some time yakin' with Ian over a breakfast burrito (we found out some privileged information regarding CelArts and the Hub on weekends....hmmmmm.) BTW, who labeled the two salsas at the condiments table as "Macho Spicy" and "Wimpy Mild"?

Thank you for the boost I needed Jesus.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rehearsal Shots.

Took some pics while at rehearsal at The Grove.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Marriott or Tower of Terror?

What's up with the Marriott? The lighting of the Marriott is exactly like the night lighting of Disneyland's California Adventures "Tower of Terror" ride. The picture of the Marriott is not retouched at all. That's exactly how the hotel looks from the street. Creepy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Astro Weenie Christmas Tree, by Charles Phoenix

Charles Phoenix is known for his Americana, Vintage, Retro slideshows around Southern California. Charles grew up in Ontario, California. He used to visit thrift shops and one day stumbled apon a box of slides marked "Our Trip Across America, 1957". He was intrigued with all the everyday details of days long past. So he decided to start showing these slides in auditoriums and people were hooked on the nostalgic slides.

My family saw Charles a few years back when he was showing his "Disneyland from the 50's to 60's" slideshow at the Disney Theatre in Los Angelas. He still shows these from time to time. What the best part of these shows are Charles descriptions of the slides as he points out funny and quirky details in the photos. Like one picture showing the long gone Indian Village at Disneyland from 1960. There is a woman in the slide who is watching an Indian dance...while wearing curlers and a scarf with white cat rimmed sunglasses.

Keep an eye out for Charle's slideshows and his bus guided tour of Downtown "Disney" tour of Los Angeles. Tickets are $60 per person, space is limited and lunch is included. You won't be disappointed. Charles is great entertainment. Enjoy this clip of his step by step instructions to making the ultimate retro party hors devor; the Astro Weenie Christmas Tree.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hey, I South Park'd Epic Beat and Myself!

Thanks Penny Lane!

Quick Before Sinking...Tonight at 7:00 PM

We'll be playing at Java Bliss tonight. Just some casual coffee music just to hang out with. Who knows, I might be in the mood to start playing some interpretive jazz on some songs. Bring your camera and blog about it.(LOL)

Another One Bites The Dust: Our City's Eminent Domain.

Yep, there goes the Car Audio Store next to the nice new parking lot on Merril. City muscled out many businesses in the name of progress and this was the last to go along the strip. Of course the Gay bar is still standing which has an outdated 70's "Loves Restaurant" architecture, but that's not an eyesore.;)

Similar businesses have fallen to the mighty tractor of progress, like this leveled corner market that has been there for years. Actually the market was taken out due to "the attraction of crime". Of course the crime was coming from this lovely property up the street.

So the crime is still there but the market isn't. Looks like the city got the information turned around the wrong way. There's a whole city block jammed with low income apartments along that street. A far worse eyesore than the Car Audio store.

Just my 2 cents about the whole thing. I think our town's new motto is, "We Want Your Business.....Literally."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Does Somebody Resemble A Certain "Rev" At The Grove?

Need a hint? Look at the gentleman at the far right. Look at the eyes. Do you see it?

My family and I were out of town while the polyurethane was drying on our new wood floors (24 dry time). So we went down to visit my wife's grandmother at Laguna Beach. Some might not know this but my wife's grandfather, Bill, was the brother to Pastor Tom's Dad. My wife has mentioned in a few sermons how there are certain expressions of Tom that remind her of her grandfather. Unfortunately I never got to meet my grandfather-in-law. I've heard some stories but I'm sure I'm not getting the full impression.

Anyway, I came across this picture of a wedding sometime in the 1930's. Ever see that round house up on top of Pachapa Drive (the mountain), Bill and Doris (wife's grandmother) used to live in that house during the 40's. I thought the family resemblance was remarkable.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Frozen In Time.

There have been about two occasions that I have caught my daughter on film right at the moment of pure, genuine joy. There was one when my daughter Libby was about 3 years old. It was her first time on the Autopia's at Disneyland. She got to be the one driving the car. I snapped a picture right at the moment her face showed this amazing smile. It was the exact moment of total enjoyment. That innocent child smile that gave you a glimpse of what her heart felt at that very moment.

Well, I can't find that one, but I also have this one from a few years back. Libby and her best friend were on this ride at Castle Park. This is another one of my favorite pictures of Libby. Even her friend's expression is priceless.

I'm planning on hanging a bunch of family pictures in our new addition hallway. This one will be blown up larger a and framed in black. I am so fortunate to have taken these pictures. This is why I've been taking my camera with me more often lately.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Favorite Artistic Videos (and one questionable one)

These are currently my favorite music videos. As always O.K. Go's "Do What You Want". is my number one favorite, as well as White Stripes "The Hardest Button to Button. But the one I can't figure out is The Foo Fighter's "The Pretender". I just don't get the point? See what I mean. Um, the White Stripes song is not the best in the world but I really like what they did for the video. Just think how many Fender Twin amps they needed just to shoot this.
O.K Go's "Do What You Want".

White Stripes "Hardest Button To Button"
Foo Fighters, "The Pretender" I love this song, but I don't get the video.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I Love Halloween In Our Neighborhood.

It's like a huge block party. The streets resemble Main Street at Disneyland right after a parade. Bands, spooky houses and lines up to door steps that look like you're waiting to board a ride attraction. Very fun.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Table For Two; Just For Tim Burton

So I'm wandering around the Dos Lagos Mall, killing some time before my haircut appointment. Outside one of these stores (can't remember now) is this one piece (yes, that's right) table for two. It's so Tim Burton looking, right down to his signature "something with a curl at the top" detail. Although the picture looks like a miniature model, due to the lighting is actually a full side chair and table. The back stands at about 5'8". Very interseting.

We Finally Pulled Up The Carpet!

My co-worker Heidi would be so proud. Well, with installing new wood floors in our new master bedroom, we decided to take the carpets out of the hallway and.... living room. Since we are replacing much of the baseboards on most of the house, our contractor recommeded pulling up the carpets and let the flooring refinishers do their job before installing the new baseboards. Keep in mind that the floors have not seen the light of day since the 70's so there are a few water stains and a couple warped boards but overall not bad shape. The flooring company will sand down a few layers, seal then coat with about 4 coats of scratch resistant urethane. Can't wait. So here's a before and after.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Part Of My Childhood Is Going Up In Smoke.

Lake Arrowhead, looking southwest from Mountains Community Hospital turnout.

I'm watching all of the news coverage and checking the Rim of the World fire incident online scanner; and I realize that most of my childhood haunts are either threatened or gone.

I grew up in Running Springs between 1971 to 1976. Although there are some bitter sweet memories there, they are still memories of my childhood. The old home on Summit Drive according to the fire map is gone, friends homes that I used to visit all the time are gone, areas where my favorite 4th grade teacher, Mr. Horton, used to take our class and teach us about mountain nature and history are gone (Smiley Park), and the place I used to play Little League baseball are all just a memory.

Running Springs.

I just saw on the scanner that they caught some guy trying to set a fire near Camp Seely, Crestline. He's in custody.

We moved to Lake Arrowhead in 1977. We lived on Yosemite which is the northern part of Lake Arrowhead, known as North Shore. Around spring of 1983, we moved to Point Hamiltar, a gated community where my parents reside today.

Growing up in the mountains has a certain carefree memory for me. I remember how fireplaces would fill the air while taking a walk on a 48 degree day, leaves changing into fall colours. I remember going to the store for something with my dad and noticing the snow filled pine trees that were lit up only by the reflection of the car headlights.

Just the feeling of seeing pine trees everywhere is something that I appreciate more now than the time I lived up there. Being a teenager in Lake Arrowhead, you didn't really think anything like a major fire would ever happen. You take it for granted when you're younger, wanting to just get off the mountain when you graduate and make a living in a place that's not so boring. How little I knew then. How little I knew that some of the structures that are now gone, were the last time I would ever see that building or home ever again.

So much history..........I am so nostalgic over the Lake Arrowhead of the 30's and 40's. Men who walked around the popular mountain resort hot spot, "The Village", closely resembling the likes of Bing Crosby. You know, the type that personified the 1930's Hollywood Celebrities of the day. The generation that had class and style and seemed to romance that whole Swiss Alps resort vibe in the mountains. Rock and wood cabins with cross-country skis mounted to the walls next to the deer antlers mounted over the door entrance.

I picture many of these type of homes going up in flames, very much like the time in 1978. I witnessed our beloved historical Village set ablaze from various fire departments; it was called "Learn and Burn". The old Village had fallen to poor earthquake structure codes and was too costly to restore. It was time to make "Lake Arrowhead New Again". Please, a Newport, jetset, high brow, "have more money than you", resort for the Orange County loving visitors. Nothing the local mountain residents would ever grow found of, but instead tolerate. "Fashion Island among the pines". Nothing classy, just commercial. It's so insulting.

Since the last fire, almost exactly 4 years to the date, Lake Arrowhead didn't resemble the Arrowhead I grew up in. Rim Forest with it's pine trees now resembling blackened tooth picks stuck in the ground, vast dirt areas with scattered picnic tables that were once hidden under acres of pines and oaks. I never wanted to go back. Visiting my parents became almost unbearable. I would just focus on the road and force myself not to look around.

I was up recently about two months ago and it was just slightly greener, mostly from oak trees, but not pines. The landscape still sort of resembles a giant scalp with hair plugs.

My parents have evacuated. They are staying in a hotel for the time. Just waiting and hoping for the best but expecting who knows.

I sit here now, with so many feelings, memories, ache, sadness, anger, disappointment, anxiousness, and mostly a heavy heart. I'm left here going over all the old times I had; places I visited friends....neighborhoods I used to trick-or-treat year after year,......a girl's house I drove up to in order to pick up for a Homecoming Dance,...walking down streets with crunching snow at my feet while staring straight up to the sky.....seeing stars that looked like they were 100 feet away, bordered by the silouettes of pines "hushing" through the branches. No street lights, no distant roar of a freeway or car traffic. Just a soft "whoooooosh" through the pines. I can never revisit these places that provided these memories.

Fire fighters in Lake Arrowhead are seeing a different mountain tonight; the wind is gusty at times, stars are obscurred by smoke, and the crunching snow is replaced with the crackling of timber and the idle of a Cummins diesel.

Grass Valley Lake near the Country Club.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's done: Stewmade ------ guitar?

I have no idea what to call it; wall stud guitar, Beechwood house guitar, The House framing guitar? It's actually very resonant, lightweight (very important), and it sings!!! I was sticking to 1950's specifications since the wood used was from my home, built in 1956.

Now the guitar geeks stuff; Gotoh "Kluson style" tuners (Kluson was a tuner manufacturer used by Leo Fender back from '47-67), Seymour Duncan Antiquity 50's pickups, vintage Luxe capacitor (always think of "Back to the Future" when I say that...Flux Capacitor), and a Callaham tremolo bridge. I cut, shaped and slotted the bone nut (the thing the strings fit into at the top of the neck).

I know you musicians know these terms but I've got some non musician types that read this blog.

The only thing missing is the custom engraved neckplate that's being made as we speak (click on the image below).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fear Factor: Crippling Stage Fright!

Unbelieveable! I don't know what to do about it. All my life I've been this way, parents encouraging me to play my guitar for the grandparents, friends, friend's parents. Never really done well in front of just a few smiling faces.

Once I got into college and joined "Cops in Concert" (mid 80's Riverside City Police officers did a Blues Brothers type show), I had no problem playing in front of people. But I was playing rhythm with an awesome guitar player who took over the lead parts. Until one night, that guitar player didn't show up. I had to cover all my parts and his, on the fly (musician jargon for improvisation). It was hell for an hour and a half. Good money though.

I have been playing lead for about 10 of my 30 years guitar experience. Two years before the last 10, I've spent almost every night just playing anything while watching TV, not really paying any attention to playing notes or anything recognizable. This got me comfortable with the guitar in my hands. This process helped me slightly consider playing solos. I figured out fingering patterns and also caught myself trying to play along with TV jingles. This is a trick that Larry Carlton recommends. Works well.

I relate to Michigan J Frog (image above). Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, Saturday morning cartoons; this is a story about a man finding a small box at a demolition construction site. He opens the box and out pops this singing frog. The man visions his future fortunes when he tries to convince everybody about this great frog. Only problem is, the frog only sings alone when it's only the man and the frog. I play very well when I know nobody is listening. The minute I'm aware that I'm being heard, I either stop playing or start making mistakes. I project my perceived critical assessment on others, you know, others evaluate my playing as harshly as I do.

Back to my stage fright. Large crowds, no problem, the bigger the better. That's why I have no problem playing at the Grove...well, used to. I have a self image problem that I'm working on. I know it goes against everything I'm supposed to think but it's an insecurity that is constantly being adressed. Wow, large screens at church, me 20 times larger than life. I'm concentrating on playing, yet I look upset, mouth agape, and head tilted upwards. When I'm soloing, I'm not aware of the first two but the looking up part is due to looking to God and praying to "get through this gig". The open mouth thing I've noticed recently. Actually I'm not aware of it. Kind of reminds me of this guy.

Big Al, Country Bears Jamboree, now "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh"

Now I have this new sense of body language awareness on top of concentrating on playing. So I played at Java Bliss, a local coffee house. Our band, Quick Before Sinking played out for it's first time. All eyes watching. The whole time I'm thinking, "keep your mouth closed, don't look upset, oh man, there's other guitar players here, don't mess up, oooh, don't look up, have fun, darn missed a note, oh no, this is Adam's song, don't mess it up, man my hands hurt, Aggie's so so cute, oh wait, do I sing backup here?, I wish I brought my song book and in order, oh oh someone is taking pictures, I wonder who's blog that will end up in, I hope I didn't have my mouth open, doh, I'm looking up again, what no break? am I having fun?, relax don't do it, Frankie?, maybe I sing here, wait a minute, Adam is changing his phrasing while I'm singing with him, I think that means don't sing here, oh man I messed up his song, hey it's 8:39 PM, I think I'll sell my equipment."

I miss recording.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Allison turns 13 today.

Allison, playing with our fog machine in October 1999.

Well my little girl turns 13 today. Ever since she turned 10, there were signs that the once little girl with bangs and silly giggle was turning into a teenager. Allison has been waiting for this moment since the was 9. Finally getting to wear some makeup, nails painted, that sort of thing. Seems like her turning 13 happened overnight. Although she no longer giggles like that little goofy 5 year old, we still love her very much and she's lots of fun to have around. We find ourselves wanting to share more time with her while she constantly plans time away from us, spending time with her neighbor friends and talking on the phone.

She's turning into quite the musician lately. She's been begging us for an acoustic guitar for months now. Last month, we went to the Guitar Center and looked around in the acoustic room of silence. She picked out this Fender acoustic and loved it. I went back a few weeks later trying to find something wrong with it (Fender electrics only, right?). It plays great and has a built-in tuner so she no longer has to ask me to tune my guitars (which she's been borrowing constantly). I believe I may be able to borrow it on occasion. ;)

So Allison's day will be filled with spending time with friends and family at the ice skating rink followed by an awesome sleepover in Idyllwild. My youngest and I will be holding down the house at home with a living room camp out. Our new wood floors in the hall and bedroom addition a drying from the final coat of lacquer.

Happy Birthday Allison.